So, uh, how about them Bucs? One of the great discussions of sports fandom is: “When do you walk away from the game.” Eli Manning walked away in 2019 at the age of 38; his big brother Peyton left the NFL in 2015 at the age of 39. Big Ben? 39. Drew Brees? 41. You can see a trend here. At a certain point, there’s a point where “the magic” isn’t there anymore.
This week, we watched 45-year-old Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lose to the Carolina Panthers, a team that has fired its head coach and is in the process of trading away every player of any seeming value for draft picks. At the same time, we watched 39-year-old Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers let the Washington Commanders go on a 23-0 run and hold the lead. Taylor Heinicke beat Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady has been beaten by Mitch Trubisky and P.J. Walker in consecutive weeks.
I’m not here to bury Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers — there are greater sportswriters who will write that eulogy. But part of the job for statistical crunchers is to, at the very least, to serve as a sort of analytical mortician. We tell you when a player is statistically “coming back to life” or “ready for the grave.” It’s never easy to say that the greats — and perhaps the greatest in Tom Brady — are done, especially for your fantasy team. But I’ve checked the stats, made a list, and contacted the ancestors via my ouija board. None of the news is good.
Here I am not to eulogize your childhood idols, but to write about D’Onta Foreman, Idolslayer.
Also, don’t forget to check out the Fantasy Besties on Monday night, 7:15PM Eastern, as they recap Week 7 and get you ready for Monday Night Football between the [checks notes] Patriots and Bears. Yuck. Yuck to the matchup, not the Besties.
|D’Onta Foreman||145 all-purpose yards on 17 touches||We told you to add him, but nobody expected this.|
|D.J. Moore||7 catches, 69 yards, 1 TD||Was this the “proof of life” for the trade market?|
|Joe Burrow||481 passing yards, 3 TDs||Give him a cigar|
|Marcus Mariota||124 yards passing, 8 completions||How do you lose by 3 touchdowns and complete 8 passes?|
|Jamaal Williams||79 rushing yards||D’Andre Swift decided not to play and let this guy take his job|
|Kalif Raymond||5 catches, 75 yards||The Lions WR we all saw coming, right?|
|Josh Jacobs||143 rush yards, 3 TDs||Remember when y’all thought he wasn’t gonna make the team?|
|Marquez Valdes-Scantling||3 rec, 111 yards||It’s not the number of catches, it’s how you use them.|
The Buccaneers: Imagine it’s August 2022: The Queen is still alive and Boris Johnson is Prime Minister. You can still buy a house. You’re reading some tripe I wrote about a hip-hop producer on a fantasy football site, or you’re still thinking about my Vecna post over on the baseball side. You go into your fantasy football draft, and you leave with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette, and Tom Brady. Heck, you might even have drafted Julio Jones and Russell Gage for good measure. FantasyPros gives you the A++++ grade for your draft and you’re celebrating by watching Alien vs Predator for the 6th time this week. Take a break — you deserve it! Might as well put that team on autopilot because you’re going 17-0 on your way to a tiny trophy that Chris from Engineering bought off of Etsy. You won the draft, right? [stares at Anakin Skywalker] RIGHT? Well, nobody saw P.J. Walker, D’Onta Foreman, Chuba Hubbard, and D.J. Moore coming. The Panthers are tanking. They fired their coach. They traded their star running back. They benched their QB. They’re trying to trade off their other stars. The Panthers were 2 touchdown underdogs to the Bucs. At the end of the day, the Panthers won by 18. Yeesh. Brady and Evans put up acceptable games for fantasy managers, but who knows what’s in store for the Bucs after this. Maybe they start their own rebuild? I’m just vibing here. Best of luck to those of you who are rolling with the Bucs — they gotta get better, right?
The Packers: Every joke from the above blurb down here, but replace it with “Aaron Rodgers.” For as troubled as the Panthers have been, the Commanders have been equally strife-ridden. Commanders head coach Ron Rivera publicly criticized QB Carson Wentz as the main problem with the team and then labored through a Thursday Night Football game that many people considered one of the worst football games in the modern era. The Commanders have an RB coming back from two gunshot wounds, a TE and WR2 coming back from season-long injuries, and a backup quarterback…and they beat a fully-healthy Green Bay Packers. Taylor Heinicke, a guy who had left the NFL and professional football entirely, beat Aaron Rodgers. Yeeesh. I wrote about the Packers’ puzzling usage of their running backs last week, and it was a similarly “useless” week. Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon combined for 12 rushes, although Jones was the heroic receiver of the day with 9 catches for 53 yards and 2 TDs, including a late-game TD that made the game seem reasonably close. Even great teams struggle, but the Packers are daggering fantasy seasons this year.
Jonathan Taylor: 10 rushes for 58 yards and 7(!) receptions on 8 targets. He’s back, he’s healthy, and the usage next week could be incredible.
Parris Campbell: 10 receptions for 70 yards and a TD. Matt Ryan seemingly has a different top receiver each week, and Campbell happened to be there this week. Campbell was a consensus “do not start unless you’re in a 15-team league,” but we can probably think about changing that designation this week. Over the past week, Campbell has 23 targets, but has amassed only 120ish yards on all of those targets. If you’re in PPR, you care less about those yards than I care about the Jaguars because you’re still scoring points.
Robert Woods: Who cares about the stats, but I keep fielding questions about this guy. The mummified corpse of Ryan Tannehill is no longer the QB he once was, and Woods has basically been a WR4-5 throughout this season. Against the Colts, Derrick Henry nearly ran for as many yards as Tannehill threw. Yeesh. Woods is a drop in all but the deepest leagues.
Gus Edwards: 16 rush attempts, 66 yards, 2 TDs. Told you to add! The Gus Bus wasn’t expected to play this week, but he got emergently added to the active roster on Saturday, and fantasy managers who were bold enough to give him the nod were rewarded with a 2 TD performance. Remember Kenyan Drake? 11 rushes for 5 yards, and he turned back into the pumpkin we all knew he was. It’s Gus going forward.
James Robinson: I hate being right. I mean, the thing about being a fantasy analyst is that you work in likelihood. Any analyst who tells you anything as a “sure thing” is lying or just dumb. This is the power of narrative in fantasy sports: it didn’t make sense for JRob to get so much play. The only reason that made sense for JRob’s feature role in the Jag’s backfield was that the team gave Travis Etienne increased time to recover and learn the playbook. After we watched Etienne and JRob split carries for a few weeks, we saw the statistical teeter-totter angle to Etienne’s favor this week. Sure, there was coach speak after the game about “We need to evaluate James Robinson for injuries” and such, but it was pretty vague and JRob didn’t have an injury designation going into the game. Also, he probably didn’t get hurt during the game because he got [checks notes] no carries. Yeah, Zay Jones and Christian Kirk got more carries than JRob. Melvin Gordon in that game where he found himself carrying Latavius Murray‘s sweat towel got more carries. So long and thanks for all the fish JRob. Fantasy managers, you can let him go unless we hear about a trade this week.
Dak Prescott: He’s back, but we kind of knew to temper expectations. 207 passing yards and a TD, which is fantasy blah. A fully healed Dak will be better in the second half, but we’ll take the playing time for now.
Amon-Ra St. Brown: Ruled out with a concussion on his first touch of the game. There’s a lot of concern about how the NFL has handled concussion protocols since the Tua incident. Well, given that 99% of the brains examined in the CTE study showed damage, and we’re still grieving over the Aaron Gonzalez and Junior Seau incidents — and actively living through the Antonio Brown drama — I really don’t give a flying frack if we have to bench all of our stars. I’d rather have ARSB telling us wild stories about his dad in 15 years than worry about if I made the right start in my fantasy league. Stay tuned to our weekly injury report to see if ARSB will miss time.
Josh Jacobs: Guy has nearly 450 yards and 6 TDs over his past three games, to go along with a pretty acceptable passing game statline. Flash backwards to the pre-season when just about every tout was telling you to skip Jacobs because he [checks notes] started in the Hall of Fame game. So wait…the guy played and we’re punishing him? What the hell kind of analysis is that? You know what Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers got for skipping the pre-season? [points up to the top of the article]. Whatever. If you read my pre-season article about drafting Jacobs and then followed through, congrats to you. And to me. [pats self on…you imagine that for yourself]
Kenneth Walker III: 168 yards and 2 TDs and defenses still can’t figure out what to do with him. Seattle has quietly put up stunning numbers since the departure of Russell Wilson, and despite the season-ending injury to RB1 Rashaad Penny, KW3 has kept the team balanced in the run game. Unfortunately, DK Metcalf left the field with a knee injury and didn’t return to the game, meaning guys like Walker will have to carry more of the football burden. What am I, John Steinbeck? ENYWHEY. Walker’s clearly got “that dawg” in him, and a couple more performances like this would make him a top RB selection in the 2023 draft.
JuJu Smith-Schuster: I hadn’t written this guy’s name all year and he looked like his career was foundering in Kansas City. But! And it’s a me-after-collecting-all-the-McDonald’s-Halloween-Happy-Meal-Pail-sized-but – – JJSS has two 120+ yard games in a row to go with 2 TDs. He’s played in 7 games, and in 5 of those games, he has 8 targets. It’s like the Ju-Ju Ratio! So, Mahomes and JJSS are clicking now, and if you’ve been benching him, it’s time to make like Windows 95 and start him up.
Mecole Hardman: 6 touches, 3 touchdowns. 50% touchdown rate! Touchdowns are highly variable. Hardman never had a rushing touchdown before today, and had 4 combined touchdowns over the past two years until today. Sometimes, a game planner like Andy Reid makes the magic happen. David Blaine, I believe in you too! No real need to add Hardman unless you’re in a deep league.
Courtland Sutton: 9 targets, 3 catches. Of course, Brett Rypien stepped valiantly into the fray and outperformed Zach Wilson. Like, how bad can the Jets get? Oh, at least Wilson has learned to just dump it to a nearby receiver and get those coveted Wins. I mean, what am I supposed to say here about Sutton — wait until Russ comes back? I’m glad Russ cashed in on the contract and the endorsements early. Sutton, meanwhile, he’s gotta live with [waves hands around] whatever this is in Denver.
Breece Hall: Feared ACL tear. Darkest timeline confirmed.
Dare Ogunbowale: If you’re a Razzball lifer, you’ll remember our love for Ogunbowale. I drafted him everywhere in 2020. Too bad he’s not actually good. But! 5 receptions for 50+ yards and a carry in Week 7. We can at least laugh about that together. HAHAHA [slaps you on the back] WE’RE LAUGHING AND GOOD TIMES.
All right — how are your teams faring? Are you excited for Monday Night Football between the Bears and Patriots? Yeesh. I’ll just watch the Fantasy Besties recap everything on Monday Night at 7:15 PM on the Razzball YouTube channel. Everybody else — I’ll see you for the injury recap next week. Peace!